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TCU hammers K-State, but playoff debate to rage on

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Sensing another seam in the Kansas State defense, Trevone Boykin abandoned the pocket and zipped forward. As he neared the goal line, three K-State defenders converged. But before they could reach him, Boykin went airborne and somersaulted all three Wildcats before landing feet first in the end zone.

“I’m not a gymnast,” Boykin said. “But when I get to the end zone, I’ll do anything to get in. I’ll do whatever it takes for this team to win.”

Behind another winning performance from its electric quarterback, TCU took a giant leap forward in its playoff hunt with a resounding 41-20 victory over seventh-ranked K-State on Saturday.

Yet as impressive as the sixth-ranked Horned Frogs were before a packed Amon G. Carter Stadium, to complete their playoff quest, they might need a solid effort down the road from the same squad they demolished.

“They’re grown-ups,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson, when asked if his team deserved to be ranked in the coveted top four when the playoff selection committee updates its rankings Tuesday. “We just beat the seventh ranked team in the nation. We’ll see what they say.”

We’ll see what the playoff committee says.

But it’s beginning to feel like 2008 all over again in the Big 12.

Earlier Saturday, Baylor demolished No. 15 Oklahoma 48-14 in Norman and handed the Sooners their second worst loss in 16 seasons under Bob Stoops.

Should both TCU and Baylor win out, the committee could be left with a difficult determination between the two for playoff inclusion.

Having disposed of 7-2 Minnesota, TCU has a better out-of-conference résumé than Baylor, which was the only Big 12 school that didn't schedule a Power 5 opponent in the nonconference schedule.

But having rallied from 21 down in the fourth quarter to stun the Horned Frogs 61-58 in Waco the past month, the Bears have the head-to-head advantage. Although the conference recognizes co-champions, in the eyes of the playoff committee, Baylor would be the One True Champion, which the committee has indicated will be a factor in its playoff deliberations.

Does this feel familiar? It should.

Six seasons ago, Oklahoma and Texas finished tied atop the Big 12 South standings with Texas Tech. The Longhorns beat the Sooners head-to-head. But the BCS standings broke the three-way tie and sent Oklahoma to the Big 12 title game -- and ultimately the national championship -- instead. The debate resulted in Facebook-funded flyovers and even prompted Texas coach Mack Brown to politic his side during the TV broadcast of Oklahoma’s final regular-season game at Oklahoma State.

After his game Saturday, Patterson was asked whether he felt he also needed to make a case for his team to be ranked ahead of Baylor.

“No,” Patterson said before proceeding to state his case. “It was at their place, we were up 21 points, and it was a three-point ball game. I don’t have a problem. I think Baylor is a really good football team. But I also know Minnesota is now 7-2, and they just beat Iowa. I thought Baylor did a great job [at Oklahoma]."

He also noted that Sterling Shepard, the Big 12’s leading receiver, sat out against Baylor with a groin strain.

“I don’t see any of the games [the Bears] have left would mean any more than the games we have," Patterson said.

TCU, however, saved its best talking for the field.

The Horned Frogs outgained K-State on the ground 352-46, limited the Wildcats to just three first downs the entire first half and even forced K-State quarterback Jake Waters into his first turnover of the Big 12 season.

TCU was without two of its top offensive playmakers, and it hardly mattered. Leading rusher B.J. Catalon was sidelined with an upper body injury, while starting wideout Deante’ Gray was unable to play with a bum leg.

Aaron Green filled in for Catalon in the backfield and rushed for 171 yards and a dazzling, sideline-to-sideline, 65-yard touchdown that effectively put the game away in the third quarter. David Porter, who hadn’t caught a single pass in three weeks, picked up Gray’s production through the air with a team-high seven receptions and a first-quarter touchdown grab that gave TCU early control.

“You want to be a great team? The next guy has to play. That’s the way it is,” Patterson said. “You want to win championships? The next guy has to step up. And the next guy stepped up.”

As good as his supporting cast was, no one was more spectacular than Boykin, who produced a Heisman moment with the somersault and sandwiched it with several thrilling others.

Boykin torched a stout and steady K-State defense that had previously locked up everyone else in the Big 12 -- and Auburn before that. He rushed for a career-high 127 yards and three touchdowns and completed 23 of 34 passes for 219 yards and another score.

“Guys made plays all over the field,” said Boykin, who admitted he was upset with his up-and-down performance in TCU’s 31-30 win at West Virginia last week and was focused on bouncing back. “This was a great win.”

It might have also been TCU’s final chance to make a great impression on the committee. In their final three games, the Horned Frogs face Big 12 doormats Kansas and Iowa State and unranked Texas in Austin on Thanksgiving night.

Baylor, meanwhile, gets slumping Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

But the Bears still have to go through K-State -- Patterson’s alma mater -- in the regular-season finale Dec. 7. The Wildcats could end any dispute by knocking off Baylor then.

Otherwise, this playoff debate will rage on -- like it’s 2008.

"We can't control the committee," Patterson said. “All we can do is try and win.”